An unnamed footballer has decided to sue Twitter after some of its users revealed the name of the player who allegedly had an affair with model Imogen Thomas. The footballer’s legal team took action against the social media giant in a London court on Wednesday for allowing its users to break a privacy injunction.
Earlier this month, several Twitter users, named as “persons unknown” in the lawsuit’s documents, published not only the identity of the player but also those who had allegedly taken out gagging orders to keep the matter private. The account in question quickly attained upwards of 100,000 followers for leaking the information.
The Guardian reported that Lord Judge, lord chief justice of the case, said on Friday that the users of Twitter were “totally out of control when it comes to privacy injunctions and court orders.” Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and other politicians also accused Twitter of making “an ass of the law” after users have breached several injunctions relating to celebrities’ privacy.
As the footballer was granted a “superinjunction” – a type of injunction in England and Wales that prohibits the media from even discussing or reporting the existence/details of the injunction – users that not only reported the name of the footballer in question but also the nature of the injunction could be subject to legal action.
It is now up to the courts to decide whether Twitter, the main and only named defendant in the case, is directly responsible for the content its users tweet; a judgement that in favour of this would have huge implications for social media. Further, as users directly violated Twitter’s Terms of Service that states you can only use the service in compliance with “all applicable local, state, national and international laws,” the case could lead to said users having their account information, including IP addresses, subpoenaed.
Thanks to Jedimark for the tip via the forums